Ukraine launches terror probe over Turkish plane hijack bid
The meeting on the sidelines of the Games’ opening ceremony focused on a prolonged political crisis in Ukraine
Ukraine on Saturday launched a terror probe into a bid by an apparently drunk man to force an airliner flying to Turkey to land in Sochi where leaders were gathered for the opening of the Winter Olympic Games.
“We have launched an investigation into an attempt to commit an act of terror and an attempt to hijack a plane,” Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) investigative department chief Maxim Lenko told reporters.
Lenko said the Ukrainian - who one official in Kiev said was “in an advanced state of drunkenness” during the incident - had a personal dislike for the politics of President Viktor Yanukovych and his Russian counterpart and ally Vladimir Putin.
‘Drenched in blood’
Yanukovych’s “hands are drenched in blood,” the man said as he demanded the plane be flown to Sochi where the Ukrainian leader held crisis talks with Putin, according to Lenko.
The meeting on the sidelines of the Games’ opening ceremony focused on a prolonged political crisis in Ukraine that has pitted the interests of Russia against those of the West.
The Ukrainian man - said officials said was born in 1969 - brandished what he said was a detonator as he tried gaining access to the cockpit of an aircraft operated by Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines on flight from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv with 110 people on board.
Turkey scrambled two F-16 jets to force down the airliner at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport. The man was immediately taken into custody and turned out to have neither a gun nor explosives.
The incident occurred in the middle of the lavish Sochi opening ceremony andhighlighted the security challenges facing the Games due their proximity to the restless North Caucasus region where Russian forces are battling an Islamic insurgency.
The violent political confrontation in Ukraine erupted in November when Yanukovych ditched an historic EU agreement under Russian pressure and sought closer economic relations with Putin -- a move that infuriated the more pro-European and nationalist west of the ex-Soviet state.